A Life Cycle Analysis of Routine Bloodwork at RUSH University Medical Center

RUSH University Medical Center (RUSH) is a tertiary academic hospital located in Chicago, IL. RUSH has 671 patient beds and is the largest non-governmental employer on Chicago’s near West Side with over 10,000 employees and an annual spending of over 550 million dollars. RUSH’s mission is to improve the health of the individuals and the diverse communities we serve.

Despite the Health care industry’s directive to do no harm, the health care sector is responsible for 8-10% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. If the US health care sector were a country, it would rank 13th in the world for greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for more emissions than the entire United Kingdom.

During hospitalizations, blood is drawn for diagnostic laboratory tests to help guide patient care. Often, blood tests continue to be ordered even in the face of clinical and laboratory stability, meaning that even when patients are doing well these tests are routinely ordered. Blood draws are painful, costly, and may have a significant environmental impact. This environmental impact has not been studied in the US and the team has been tasked with conducting a life cycle assessment to decrease the unnecessary utilization of these tests.